Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ABC Trek: Day 5 - to MBC

Since we had stopped one stop short the previous day, today was expected to a be a long day for us. I, as usual, was up by 5:15 am and then after bothering the kitchen staff for some morning tea, I packed my bags, had my breakfast with R and waited for others to get ready.

While R left a few minutes ahead of our group, I soon caught up with him as he had slowed down to get rid of layers of warm clothing that the morning cold had demanded. A few more minutes into the hike, I was stripping down to my T-shirt as the trail was a little tough and weather had started to warm up a bit. We walked behind each other, mostly in silence, but pointing to each other the beautiful sceneries. This was a beautiful hike through forest - rhododendrons scattered at multiple places all over the trail...felt like I was in a fairytale movie set :)

We arrived at our first stop, Himalyan, in just over an hour and waited for rest of my group to catch up while sipping some hot tea. By 9 am, I saw IL & PC walk in but CD was still a little behind. IL & PC decided to wait for CD and I proceeded towards next stop and our lunch halt - Deurali. Trail again was not that tough (as compared to the previous days) but still had enough steep portions that left us breathless.

We also encountered a stretch of snow on the way to Deurali and I finally had to get my trekking poles out! I realized later how useful they are in snow and other kind of slippery conditions. R & I reached Deurali by 10:30 am...a bit too early for him as he was stopping here for the day. As I waited for the others to catch up, the weather started showing signs of rain.

IL & PC again arrived well before CD, and by the time we all finished lunch, the drizzle had become a downpour and temperatures plummeted so much that we all extracted an additional layer of warm clothing from our duffels before we resumed the hike. On top I wore a base layer, T-shirt and my wind/water proof 3-in-1 jacket. The fleece of 3-in-1 was kept in my backpack for later in case the need arose. At bottom, I didn't wear base layer but wore rain pants on top of my hiking pants that also helped provide additional warmth to my legs.

We secured rain covers on our backpacks and started the hike as the downpour reduced to drizzle. We crossed a river and after that the trail got extremely muddy. The porters had gone way ahead and I soon lost sight of them. Till the river crossing I could see IL behind me but a little while later I lost sign of IL also...PC & CD were not in my sight almost from the very beginning.

Our final destination for the day was Macchpuchhre Base Camp (MBC) and it was atleast 2 hours from Deurali. We had started at 2 pm, so I knew I wouldn't need to worry until 4 pm and if even then I didn't find any other human in sight, my plan was to just retrace my steps. Soon the mucky part was over and was replaced by clean sheets of snow. Now the drizzle had turned into snowfall and I soon forgot everyone and everything else. There was no one else in sight - just the mountains, the gentle breeze blowing snow in my face and silence. I stood transfixed for sometime and realized I should keep moving as my hands were almost frozen without gloves :) (I had taken them off as it didn't feel very cold while walking plus they get in the way of clicking pictures with phone)

Around 3:30 pm I met some folks going the other way and they told me I was still 60 min away from my destination. I wasn't worried about myself but knowing that the others were way behind, I wasn't sure how long will they take to reach MBC. At 3:50 pm I reached a lodge to find that its not the one I was looking for, I had to climb back down and walk another 20 minutes to get to the lodge our porters were at already. About 20 meters from the lodge I saw them walking towards me - they were now going to fetch PC & CD ( a practice that had started at lunch time today when CD hadn't turned up till 12:30 pm)

I took the keys from the lodge owner, changed into comfortable clothes, washed my dirty rain pants and put everything to dry -  raincover, jacket and rain pants. The snowfall had stopped and now weather had turned really cold.

IL & PC arrived together along with one porter, with PC in bad shape. She had all typical symptoms of altitude sickness - headache, nausea, fatigue...we gave her Diamox (she had had one after lunch also) but what was bothering her most was cold - she was shivering in 3-4 layers of clothing and 2 blankets. IL & I  were in the cold dining hall and the other porter was still out - to bring CD.

I went back to room to warm myself up in my sleeping bag and found a guide from another group waiting to have a "word" with us. I requested that since PC wasn't well, it would be great if we could do it later but his guest (K) apparently couldn't wait and started screaming at IL (who was standing at the door of our room) that we shouldn't have left CD alone and that he has had to risk lives of 3 of his team members to fetch CD. I was surprised, for two reasons - one, our porter was already bringing her back and two, I didn't encounter any life threatening conditions on the trail - so what risks was he talking about?

It was only the next day did we find out why was K so livid. Well the story goes like this - CD was walking slow and our porter hadn't yet reached her. K must have seen her walking alone and decided to wait for her to catch up with him. They both chatted for a while (C for Chatty) and maybe K felt that CD was a damsel in distress (D for Damsel) who needed rescuing - hence the rescue team. Though a bit sad that he didn't choose to rescue her himself :)

Soon after this firing, around 6 pm, we saw CD arrive. She wasn't in great shape either - she also had altitude sickness but she went to dining hall instead of coming to the room as the hall now had a kerosene heater.

Unlike EBC trail, lodges on ABC trail don't have dung powered heaters in dining room. And the only option is kerosene stove that is kept under the dining table with blankets hanging from the table. The people sitting in that area are expected to pay for  the heating. Thankfully, the owner here was kind enough and he lit one stove without asking anyone to pay. Soon PC was also brought to dining hall and made to sit next to stove.

While IL & I had good dinner, PC & CD were struggling to even finish a bowl of soup. After dinner, next item on agenda was the start time for ABC - we decided on a 4:30 am start based on recommendation from our porter, Pushkar (who was to be our guide to ABC) and the lodge owner.

Given 4:30 am start the next day, I was back in room by 7:00 pm and soon the others followed suit. PC was still very cold and sick, so IL gave PC an additional blanket and decided to sleep in just her sleeping bag - she had done the same at Doban the previous night as we were short one blanket there. I was shivering inside my sleeping bag while wearing base layer, gloves, cap and with blanket on top of my bag - and here was IL just in her sleeping bag. I had no confidence that IL would get any sleep in just her bag in this sub-freezing temperatures.

Views on way to Himlayan - check out the rainbow

Pink ones this part of the hike

Flower strewn paths for our walking

Views on way to Deurali
Views on way to MBC



No comments:

Post a Comment